March 31, 2019

God’s Grace & Strength

Passage: 2 Corinthians 11:22-12:10
Service Type:


  • v9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness"
  • God sometimes permits thorns to come into our lives in order to minister to us
    • It may seem odd
    • The ministry of the thorn has enable countless Christians to grow closer to God
  • Paul's thorn
    • In the flesh
    • To perhaps find help in the hindrances
  • What do we learn?
    • Three things

A Source of Pain

  • Not a minor inconvenience 
    • A massive blow to his ministry
    • Thorn (v7) - not a rose thorn but a spike or a stake
      • Something that would have been used in torture
      • Used in the extreme
  • Speculation:
    • A kind of spiritual attack: some sin or particular temptation
    • A physical problem:
      • Gal 4:13 - he had "physical infirmity"
      • Gal 4:15 - maybe an eye complaint
    • Persecution by various opponents
  • Not sufficient information to be categorically certain
    • Paul identifies with infirmities, reproaches, in need, in persecutions and in distress
  • A messenger of satan - a demon: some form of demonic attack (v7)
    • People were directly attacking his gospel ministry and discrediting the gospel
  • Paul thought the best thing was to completely remove it
    • We might think the same thing
  • Paul prayed 3 times - he prayed continuously that God would remove the thorn in his flesh
    • God only spoke to him when he finished praying (v9)
    • Sometimes we are so busy telling God to remove the problem that we don't hear Him speaking to us through the problem

A Word of Comfort

  • A two fold word of comfort:
    • Purpose - "lest I be exalted above measure" (x2) - v7
      • Quote from Gordon MacDonald - God uses 'disruptive moments'
    • [Provision]


  • He had an exalted experience of God 14 years ago - caught up into the Third Heaven
    • He speaks about himself in the 3rd person
    • He humbles himself in contrast to the 'supra-apostles'
  • Explanation of the Third Heaven
    • Compare with Enoch and Elijah
  • He did not become proud and puffed up
  • This thorn came into his life to humble him, to buffet him
    • He learns how God can use broken people - earthen vessels
    • This is his experience


  • Provision - God makes provision in our sufficient: My grace is sufficient
    • Illustrative Story of CH Spurgeon
      • The infinite riches of God's grace
      • Unlimited stores of grace
    • "God's strength is made perfect in weakness"
      • The same word when Christ on the cross says "it is finished"
      • Something complete
    • Example of King Uzziah

A Means of Blessing

  • Paul's weakness became his strength
    • Has this not been our experience?
    • On the mountain tops - our hearts often go cold, in the valleys - we are often brought to our knees before God
  • God will use the thorns to make us more effective in His service
    • Paul boasts in his infirmities because he is strong in Christ
    • In his weakness he sees God strength
    • He realises that this thorn is actually a blessing
  • Example of Jacob & Elijah
  • Illustration from Chuck Swindall